ATG: How did your family come to own Priory Polishes?
James Driscoll: My dad started our antiques and restoration business, Driscolls Antiques, in 1977 and I’ve worked there for more than 20 years. I’ve been using products from Priory Polishes for as long as I’ve been in the trade. It was founded by Allan Worrell starting with the Polish Reviver and Clock Case Restorer. In 2007, Paul Cartwright took over the firm, and when he retired last year, my firm, Driscolls in Lancashire, took it over.
How are responsibilities divided between you?
JD: Isabel has worked in marketing and graphic design, so she does the website. Ruby does the mixing and the packaging of the products.
Isabel Driscoll: It’s definitely a change for me as I’d previously worked in big firms. At Priory there’s a lot more variety to sell and it’s great having the experience of having used the products in the workshop myself.
Ruby Driscoll: I’d been doing a course in beauty, but then I came on board to work with the family. I have an apprenticeship in restoration now so am working more on the practical side of things.
What was one of your first jobs when you took over the business?
ID: Redesigning the bottles for the handmade products. There wasn’t much information on them about how to use the product. Previously I had worked on designing medical packaging so I used that experience to get the instructions on there.
Have you made changes to the products themselves?
JD: No. The main product, the Polish Reviver, cleans furniture without affecting the original finish, gives it a new lease on life. Without it Driscolls wouldn’t have the same business it does today. Nothing does what these mixes do. The product hasn’t changed in 20 years but it needed a revamp.
We might look at expanding our range into areas like garden furniture solution, though. We also supply all the big brands, though we only sell the products that have worked for us in the past. If we wouldn’t use it, we don’t sell it.
How is the business changed since you took it over?
JD: It’s grown by about 50%, maybe more. We launched our new website in January so that we have a wider reach. It’s open to trade and private buyers and with lockdowns last year and this year and people spending more time at home, they are looking at their furniture more.
What was one surprise?
JD: How labour intensive it is making the Polish Reviver by hand. It has to be done over three days, which was a bit of a shock.
What’s it like working as a family?
ID: Good – we can discuss how we can change and do things better as a business outside of work.
JD: I’ve always wanted to have my girls involved. One beauty of the recent lockdown is that we’ve all been together working.